By Eric Dickmann

June 24, 2019

Business Improvement, Customer Service

According to a recent survey, many startups failed to gather and handle customer feedback and as a result, 14% of startup failed for ignoring customers. To run a successful business, you need to learn to be a great listener. What you should particularly listen to are your customer's problems, praises, and suggestions.

It's important to find out what your clients think about your product or service. Their opinions are helpful information which you can use to adjust your business to better fit their needs more. There are plenty of ways you can leverage customer feedback, and profit from it, if you take the time to collect it.

What is Customer Feedback?

Customer Feedback is either satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a product or a service. You can gather it through surveys, email, letters, or phone calls from the customer to the company. Customer comments and complaints are important resources. They can help in improving and addressing the needs and wants of the customer.

Why Gather Feedback?

Customer feedback provides insights to improve your product, service, or staff interaction. Kelly Gray in her article at My Care My Choices listed the top four reasons why customer feedback is important:

  • It offers the best way to measure customer satisfaction. Feedback determine whether your product or service meets or exceeds customer expectations.
  • It provides insights to create a better customer experience. You can create a personalized customer experience if you know what they want.
  • It can help improve customer retention. By requesting customer feedback, you can ensure you keep the finger on the pulse. You can address their frustrations and keep them wanting to do business with you.
  • These experiences may help someone make the decision to work with your organization. The feedback you collect, like good news stories, could be the key for new clients to access your service.

Best Ways to Gather Customer Feedback

Gathering feedback improves your business process. It also makes the customer feel heard and involved. The involvement helps bring your customer back and can improve their dedication to your brand. Jason Westland, in his article at The Project Manager, recommended ways to best collect customer feedback:

Live Chat

A web sales driven business with a live chat function is a way to offer an opportunity to answer questions. You can get information and provide direction while you manage sales in real time.

Live chat is important in purchasing or subscribing to products online. Your customers no longer have to stop what they’re doing when they have a question or complaint. They can have their questions answered or complain addressed by a live person while on their phone, tablet or computer.

Email Outreach

Email remains a valuable tool a business has to gather candid customer feedback. Once you write back and start a dialogue, there’s an opportunity to build bonds and strengthen customer loyalty.

Send an email to collect customer feedback, especially when a user does something significant: signs up, upgrades to or exits a plan, and so on. A quick one-liner question can gain insight at the right time.


Surveys continue to be popular, especially online, and that's because they work. Avoid asking too many questions as you might lose a customer's interest. It's best to start with an open-ended question. The customer might surprise you with their answers.

The best place to use survey is when we want detailed inputs. Send them to an engaged user, who you're sure would like to take the time to provide feedback to you. The data you collect here is going to be the most accurate and helpful.

Phone Calls

The phone is a more personal and intimate communication tool. It results in a more authentic conversation. It can also excite a customer to speak to a real person. It provides an opportunity for them to express how we can improve a product or service.

The person calling the user should understand their problem and offer solutions. Keep in mind the best times to call. Studies have shown that customers are more likely to respond between 8 AM and 9 AM, and between 4 PM and 5 PM. Lunchtime, between 1 PM and 2 PM is the absolute worst time to reach out to anyone. Also, it an era where people are bombarded by robocalls, it can be difficult to get customers to answer. Using a number with CallerID that clearly shows your company name can help but connection rates are often poor.

Customer Forums

Online forums allow collaboration of ideas. Users can create feedback posts which can be upvoted or commented on by other users. Top posts can help you discover what the majority of your users need.

Use forums when you are looking for new ideas from your users. Start by inviting engaged users first. They know your product well and will be in a better position to suggest improvements or new features. Afterward, start inviting more users. They can upvote or comment on other's ideas even if they do not have one. Just remember the famous quote attributed to Henry Ford: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Often times users see areas for incremental improvement to existing processes or functionality. It's not often they suggest a revolutionary idea that will be the next big thing for your product. 

Social Media

Your business doesn't always have to approach customers when asking for feedback. One resource is to check their engagement on your social channels. Check these comments on a daily basis to understand how they perceive the company, brand, and products. Trends are often easy to spot if you carefully monitor this feedback.

Listening through social media is useful for gathering candid feedback from customers. Many social networks have built-in polling tools. A short poll on a popular social network is another way to solicit input from customers.


Best Ways to Handle Customer Feedback

Relatively few companies are good at translating customer feedback into meaning. An even smaller number actually take action with the customers to let them know their voice was heard. Harsh Vardan, in his article at Hiver, suggested six ways to handle customer feedback:

  • Identify product improvement areas. Your user will always have some ideas that you did not think of.
  • Feed customer feedback into your product road map. It can come very close to the ideal market fit.
  • Find your niche. Customer feedback can be a good way to find out where you belong.
  • Prevent customer churn. Any feedback is a display of interest in your product. Showing that you care goes a long way in building a healthy business relationship.
  • Discover potential advocates and nurture them. Gathering feedback will help you identify the happiest of your users. The next step is to nurture them into advocates.
  • Motivate your team. Share conversations that are interesting. Come up with new ideas about the product (improvements or game changers) with the whole team. It would help everyone understand the larger picture.

It's time to grow your company!

Learn how a fractional CMO can help your business grow!

Contact us today to learn more about our Virtual CMO advisory service.

Eric Dickmann

About the author

Eric Dickmann is the Founder / CMO of The Five Echelon Group, host of the weekly podcast "The Virtual CMO" and YouTube series "Work-Life" and a fractional CMO for a variety of small and midsize companies. An executive leader with over 30 years of experience in marketing, product development, and digital transformation, he has worked with large, global companies and small startups to develop and execute marketing strategies to bring innovative products to the market.

You might also like